Thanks for the memory

fredrussellMemories of places are all very well, but here Fred Russell, lifelong Ascott resident, recalls some of the changes he has noticed in ways of living, some for better and some for worse.  Read on for some lifestyle nostalgia.

More credit cards and debit cards, more cars on roads, more mobile ‘phones and laptops, more information at our finger tips than ever before.  I feel overwhelmed by all the technology.  I still don’t understand how a plastic disc with a hole in the middle can produce such wonderful music.  Even some churches are now using collection by debit cards, no more plate or bag.  Perhaps the church warden will come around and punch your ticket like a bus conductor would have done years ago.  I do wonder at the second coming if they don’t have a laptop or mobile ‘phone, then they will miss out on the beatitudes.

Over the past forty years I have lost family and friends.  Some I played football with – people like Cliff Bridges, Gordon Smith and Arthur Hunt and those I played cricket with, John Hemmings, Colin Pearce and Brian Saxby.  I know I have missed many more names that could have filled a page of this magazine.  When I pass by Milton Green I see in my mind’s eye all of them again, young with hope and dreams for the future.

There were friends I had the privilege of knowing who attended the parish church.  That’s where I always knew I’d meet friends. I thought they would always be there, none of them were saints, most of them were good kindly people and ran the race, finished the course and kept the faith.  That’s all any of us can hope for.

Milton under Wychwood - The Green - Les Rainbow,Frank Barrett,Pat Waite,Sid Hedges,?,Dick Mason,Ern Hedges,Bert Field Lionel Puddle,Jeff Tibbits,Charlie Stringer,? ?,Jack Greenaway ?

Milton under Wychwood – The Green –
Les Rainbow,Frank Barrett,Pat Waite,Sid Hedges,?,Dick Mason,Ern Hedges,Bert Field Lionel Puddle,Jeff Tibbits,Charlie Stringer,? ?,Jack Greenaway ?

In my middle years, I had the good fortune to walk in some of most beautiful countryside in England and Wales.  My hope is that future generations will have the same opportunity.  My main concern would be for uncontrolled urban sprawl.  While our village hasn’t changed much, I don’t like all the parked cars up the streets.  It never used to be like that. All those houses up the High Street were for blue collar workers.  Buses used to take us from all our villages up to Smiths Industries in Witney where they made car heaters.  The houses have changed so much.  When I was young, we had water pipes out in the road because there were no bathrooms.  I remember when our council houses first had bathrooms fitted, our friends used to come in and treat themselves to a bath.  Most of them were used to old tin baths in front of the fire; it was just like in Steptoe and Son.  But now you look at those houses with their extensions and patio windows, all for a professional class of people.  Days have long gone when I knew everyone in the village and which houses they lived in.

The editor told me all of the articles he has received about the last forty years have been positive.  I am finding it difficult.  Maybe the mobile ‘phone has often proved a life saver for any one injured or in a dangerous place.  For an OAP like myself the free bus pass and prescriptions have been welcome.  When I was seventy five I stopped paying the television licence.  Now I am going to have to pay it again, which I resent doing.  Why should I contribute to the BBC for them to stick East Enders on four nights a week?  Surely the country is depressed enough at this time, without cockneys yawping at each other across the screen?

I could go on but I won’t.

June – July 2020